What is foundation: what is it for in beekeeping, its types, pros and cons

What is foundation: what is it for in beekeeping, its types, pros and cons

Establishing a beehive is important so that honey bees can store honey. Why wax is needed and what it is, every experienced beekeeper knows. And beginners in the field of beekeeping, who are serious about doing this business, need to study this issue thoroughly. After all, the honey “harvest” will depend on how well the hive is equipped with wax.

What is foundation

Wax is a beeswax that is inserted into frames. It looks like a plate on which insects create honeycombs, which are subsequently filled with honey. In beekeeping, two types of such material are used - natural and artificial.

On wax plates, hard-working bees line up cells to build up a layer of honey in them at a record pace. One bee can build up to 4 thousand cells per day! True foundation consists of a white wax that melts quickly when heated, but does not precipitate.

Varieties and species

Foundation is classified into natural and artificial. In beekeeping, the second type of wax product is gaining popularity because it makes it easier for bees to work. Although it is a copy of natural foundation, there are differences between these two types of material.


Artificial foundation is produced on an industrial scale at specialized enterprises. The process of its manufacture is regulated by the State Standard. According to the material of manufacture, the product is further divided into:

  • Semi-natural foundation. In terms of quality, it is inferior to natural material. Such a product is obtained by mixing wax with paraffin or other additives. Its properties do not change much from this, but it is a little more difficult to make it, and it differs in increased fragility.
  • Polyurethane, plastic foundation. This is a completely artificial material, in the manufacture of which plastic is used. Such material is characterized by the presence of ready-made honeycombs - the bees do not need to complete anything using wax. They only have to fill the created cells with honey. In addition, on the surface of such foundation there are already recesses for larvae with drones.

Artificial honeycombs can be handcrafted by the beekeeper. But this is a complex, painstaking work that takes a lot of time.


Honey foundation made from natural material is highly valued by beekeepers. The process of its production occurs in two ways:

  • Bees make their own plates from honey and pollen, then line up the cells. By the way, earlier, before the appearance of the first artificial foundation, honey insects spent their own resources on building containers for the sweet mass. As a result, honey supplies were scarce.
  • Material for honeycombs is made by a beekeeper at home, or by factory workers. The result is wax from natural raw materials, which was already mentioned earlier. In its production, only pure and completely natural beeswax is used. If impurities are added to the wax mass during the manufacture of the plates, then the final product of production cannot claim to be called natural.

Note. Natural wax plates are characterized by plasticity and a tendency to heat under the influence of high temperatures.

Therefore, they need to create special storage conditions so that they retain their suitability until the next honey season.

How bees make wax

Bees use pollen combined with honey to produce wax. As soon as they get the building material they need, they immediately get down to business.

But in order for insects to build sheets of foundation and honeycombs on them, the hives must have an optimal air temperature - from +25 to +30 degrees. If this value is lower or higher, the entire wax formation process will be stopped.

How a person produces

The first artificial foundation was created in 1869. It was presented at the exhibition - and since then the technique of making such wax plates began to rapidly gain popularity.It was developed and improved, changes were made to it, new processes and production stages were added.

Currently, foundation is made by applying a honeycomb bottom configuration to a finished wax plate. It should be thin and consist only of natural raw materials. The use of any additional additives in this process - paraffin, stearin or others - is not welcome. But it is not prohibited either. Plastic honeycomb, although not completely natural, also has advantages.

The configuration of honeycomb bottoms on a wax plate is carried out by rolling it on special engraved rollers.

This process can be done manually or automatically. In the first case, up to 20 kilograms of wax plates can be rolled per day.

Automatic rolling method involves the use of an electric drive. This allows you to increase production tenfold, because the device is able to roll up to 50 kilograms of raw materials in just 1 hour! And when using innovative equipment with improved lines, the volume of processed material reaches 100 kilograms in 1 hour.


Wax foundation is used not only in beekeeping. It is also used for other purposes:

  • candle making;
  • creating decorative elements - artificial flowers, various figurines, figurines, souvenirs;
  • receiving medicines: treatment with bee products even got a separate name - apitherapy.

The foundation has a pleasant smell, and it also looks beautiful if you give it a certain shape. In addition, it has a beneficial effect on human he alth by purifying the air of harmful bacteria.

How to choose the right foundation?

The quality of the material determines how successfully it will be used by bees to accumulate honey reserves. Key features of a good product:

  • Organoleptics. High-quality foundation is shiny, transparent to the light. The presence of a grayish coating on its surface is allowed.
  • Engraving. All its sections should be equally well translucent, and at the base form a hexagon of the correct shape.
  • Cells. Identical in shape and size, their number is at least 10 for every 5.5 centimeters.
  • The hardness of the wax sheet. To determine it, you need to place a wax plate in the center of the palm. If the edges of the material drop by about 30 millimeters, the product is genuine and can be purchased.

Experienced beekeepers know more tricks about buying hive foundation. But for beginners, it is enough for now to use the indicated selection criteria to purchase a quality product.

Storage Features

The way foundation is stored depends on what raw material it is made of. It is easiest to provide optimal conditions for an artificial plastic product. It does not melt at high temperatures and does not crumble at low temperatures. It is enough to keep it in a dry place where no one can touch it. Beforehand, the plates should be wrapped with a film or put in a bag so that they do not get dirty.

Natural foundation made of pure wax must be stored at positive temperatures, otherwise it will begin to crumble. It is stacked in piles of 5-7 pieces and packed in wrapping paper or cardboard. Then it should be transferred to boxes for further storage.

Pros and cons of different types of foundation

Each type of foundation has its pros and cons. To begin with, about the merits of non-natural material. Among them:

  • durability;
  • unpretentiousness to storage conditions;
  • reducing cash costs;
  • make it easier for bees and save more pollen and honey;
  • no deformation or melting processes;
  • affordability.

Product cons:

  • Dyes may be used during production;
  • sheets should be periodically treated with solutions to repel pests;
  • damaged sheet cannot be restored;
  • before inserting into the frame on the wax layer, be sure to apply a thin layer of wax;
  • plastic products can adversely affect the he alth of bees.

The advantage of natural foundation is that it does not contain extra inclusions. Its composition is completely safe for bees, moreover, when it is created in the factory, it goes through a preliminary process of filling. Therefore, the beekeeper does not have to do this.

Minus is the fragility of the material. It is influenced by air temperature and lighting. In the heat, the layers begin to "float", under the influence of cold - to crumble. Therefore, when choosing a product, always weigh the pros and cons of each of them.

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